UCL Human Resources


Remote Working Pilot Policy and Guidance

This is a pilot policy to support the return to UCL campus and the Return to Campus - Interim Guidance for Staff and Line Managers.


1. Introduction
2. Scope
3. The importance of campus life
4. The Occasional or Regular Remote Worker 
5. Equipment for remote working 
6. Use of IT equipment off campus
7. Communication and Contact 
8. Caring Responsibilities
9. Health and Safety
10. Financial and legal considerations for remote working
11. Security and Data Protection
12. Agreeing a remote working arrangement
13. Revoking the remote working arrangement
14. Review of Policy
Appendix 1 

1. Introduction

1.1 Following UCL’s roadmap back to campus and the publishing of Return to Campus - Interim Guidance for Staff and Line Managersthis pilot policy accompanies the guidance and will form the basis of a future policy if the interim pilot scheme of remote working is successful, and following feedback and review of the scheme.  Line managers, staff and the recognised trade unions are asked to consider and follow this policy during the interim scheme, and to provide any feedback.   

1.2 UCL embraces and supports many forms of flexible working, including remote working, where appropriate.

1.3 For employees whose role lends itself to this form of working, and where the employee’s personal circumstances and personal choice enable this, UCL supports a mode whereby the majority of staff may spend a minimum of 40% of their time on campus and 60% working remotely.   

1.4 Remote working will always be voluntary, and no employee will be required to work remotely unless a particular issue determines this. The UCL campus or a designated University site will remain the contractual “normal place of work”.

2. Scope

2.1 This Policy applies to UCL employees who are on a UK contract of employment and whose role comprises of activities which may be undertaken remotely. 

3. The importance of campus life 

3.1 UCL is a campus-based University, and our identity and student experience are in part framed by staff and students interacting and collaborating in person, to support learning, creativity and innovation within our diverse community. Campus life is an integral part of the student and staff experience.  It therefore remains important for staff to engage in the culture and life of UCL on campus; to interact with and act as role models for students and colleagues; and it remains important for teams to come together in person.

Many activities need to be delivered in person on campus. Such activities include but are not limited to:

  • Laboratory work
  • Work which involves physical resources which are site based
  • Delivery of and support for face-to-face teaching
  • Delivery of and support for the induction and training of new staff
  • Important and/or sensitive meetings with team members
  • Student or customer facing roles
  • Open days
  • Conferences, seminars and talks, where we showcase our University and work
  • Safety inspections
  • Cleaning and security
  • Onsite Estates, IT and related infrastructure maintenance
  • Healthcare services
  • Hospitality services and facilities management

UCL’s approach is to balance the need for onsite presence with offering our people work life balance and flexibility, where appropriate.

4. The Occasional or Regular Remote Worker

4.1 The Occasional or Regular home-worker may work from home either on an occasional ad hoc basis, or regularly for up to 60% of their working time. With a view to maintaining a level of in person interaction and sense of community, they will work at least 40% of their working time onsite, unless exceptionally agreed otherwise with their line manager. 

The 40% onsite may be applied as days of the week, as a proportion of the weekly working hours or balanced across a four-week period. 

4.2 Occasional or regular remote working may be appropriate for a staff member where:

  • They are not required to see students, customers or colleagues on a particular day
  • They need to work on a particular piece of work where concentration is important and to avoid interruptions
  • They have a temporary issue where they are unable to travel to campus
  • They have an unexpected childcare or other caring responsibility
  • They need to self-isolate to limit the spread of an illness, or due to an underlying or chronic health condition

The regular remote worker will have access to an appropriate desk space on campus and may need to follow the principles of agile working.

5. Equipment for remote working

5.1 All staff have the option of choosing a PC or a laptop to undertake their work. This should be arranged by your department. Those who have a UCL laptop should use this for remote working. Those who have a PC on campus may borrow a departmental laptop if one is available or use their personal PC or laptop at home. When their UCL PC is due for renewal they may consider choosing a laptop to enable hybrid working.     

5.2 Where remote working is a voluntary arrangement, it is the responsibility of the remote worker to ensure that they have:

  • at home, and at their own expense, a suitable workstation which is DSE compliant.  This may include a suitable desk, an adjustable chair, a keyboard and mouse which is separate to the laptop, and a laptop stand.
  • the VPN client ; MS Teams and UCL file storage drives installed on any personal laptop or PC
  • appropriate broadband width (at their own expense)
  • undertaken a DSE assessment on their home workstation in the RiskNET system.
  • diverted telephone calls from their University extension to their landline or mobile phone

5.3 It is also recommended that remote workers have their laptop connected to their router via an ethernet cable for optimum speed and connection; and a headset for MS Teams calls.

5.4 Any reasonable adjustments due to a disability will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  

6. Use of IT equipment off campus

6.1 All remote workers must be fully conversant with and comply with the following UCL policies at all times, including when they are working remotely:

6.2 Information Services Division (ISD) has a variety of Remote Working advice and tools to support staff including setting up your workstation, using your broadband effectively, How to Stay Secure.

6.3 Users should log any IT issues with the ISD helpdesk as usual.

7. Communication and Contact

7.1 Staff working remotely will be expected to be logged in to UCL systems and to be available during their agreed normal working hours on email and MS Teams.  They should provide their line manager and colleagues with their mobile number for emergencies. Staff can divert telephone calls from a University extension to their land line or mobile phone.  In addition, staff must make use of their Outlook calendars showing their whereabouts and meetings on any given day and must give their line manager and immediate team colleagues access to that calendar.

7.2 Line managers should maintain regular contact with their members of staff who are working remotely, with regular video calls, and should consider whether one to one meetings, and team briefings would be best delivered in person on campus. 

7.3 Immigration:  Those working under an immigration visa have a legal obligation to ensure that their outlook calendar shows their whereabouts at any given time and this includes when they are working remotely. Sponsored migrants who are working from home part of the week must register their home address as an additional work address against their certificate of sponsorship.

7.4 Making Hybrid Work:  UCL has collected together a number of resources to help those working remotely under the Making Hybrid Work webpages. This site contains tools and information to support you and those around you to get the most from remote working.  

7.5 Reporting/booking Absence:  The usual rules for taking any kind of absence or reporting in sick still apply.

8. Caring Responsibilities

8.1 UCL recognises that not having to commute to work allows an employee more time before and after work for caring responsibilities.   However, working from home is not a substitute for childcare or care for other dependents, and those working from home must ensure that they have caring arrangements in place during their working hours.

9. Health and Safety

9.1 DSE Assessment:  All remote workers will need to complete the Workstation DSE Assessment in the RiskNET system for both their home environment and on campus.

9.2 Accidents / Near Misses while working at home:  Employees who sustain an injury or have an accident while working from home are required to follow University procedures for reporting such incidents.

9.3 Personal Details and Safety:  Staff should not give their home address and telephone number to non-members of staff.  If a postal address needs to be given out, it should be that of the employee’s department at UCL.  Only a UCL mobile telephone number or a UCL extension number should be given out, which can be diverted to your personal mobile.  MS Teams can be used to make internal telephone and video calls.  Remote workers must not meet students or other University clients in their home.

10. Financial and legal considerations for remote working 

Working remotely from overseas

10.1 Unless your contract of employment states the contrary, your UK contract of employment requires you to be resident in the UK.  This means that your main home is in the UK, that you live in the UK for the majority of the year, and that you pay income tax in the UK.  

10.2 UCL is unable to accommodate or comply with requests to work remotely while abroad.  This is because working from abroad entails complex issues covering immigration; local employment law and health and safety law; local income tax and social security payments; some UK pension rules; corporate tax issues for UCL; data protection and intellectual property issues. If you wish to work remotely while abroad on a short-term, temporary basis this must be discussed with your line manager in the first instance, who will need to take specialist advice from UCL’s Global Tax Manager, in HR, before approval can be given, as this may still give rise to local immigration, tax and social security issues.   If this is approved, working abroad will be limited to 60 days in any one UK tax year (April to April).

10.3 The exception to this policy is where there is a UCL requirement or formal agreement to work abroad, rather than a personal preference to do so.  Please see Global Mobility Policy (to be published).

Travel Expenses

10.4 The nominal “normal place of work” remains the University and all staff will be expected to meet the cost of travelling from their home to campus or claim the cost of travel to another location less the cost of travelling to campus.  All additional travel costs for business use will be claimable as usual through Oracle.

 Business Rates

10.5 You do not usually have to pay business rates if you are working from home. For more information see the government website.

Tax relief on expenses incurred from working at home

10.6 If UCL requires an employee to work at home, and the arrangement is not voluntary, you may claim tax relief for utility bills at a flat rate of £6 per week for the tax year 2020/21. You cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home.

Insurance Cover

10.7 Staff are advised that working from home may affect the provisions of any home and contents insurance policy, although this should not affect your premium.  It may also affect mortgage provisions.  Employees should therefore inform their insurers / mortgage provider / landlord before commencing homeworking.  There is a template letter at Appendix 1.

10.8 Any damage or theft of University property must be reported to the line manager immediately.

10.9 All staff working remotely, whether in the UK or abroad on a temporary basis, are covered by the University’s Personal Accident, Employer’s and Public Liability Insurance, as long as the rules of this Policy have been followed.

London Allowance

10.10 London Allowance continues to be payable in full for staff whose work location is in a London Borough.   There are no current plans to adjust the London Allowance if staff work remotely some of the week.  London Allowance is not payable to staff who work on a permanent basis at a site which is outside of a London Borough.

11. Security and Data Protection

11.1 Security and data protection rules continue to apply. Remote workers must ensure that documents kept at home are stored securely in a lockable cupboard and that computer-held data and documents are subject to security logins and protection.  All work conducted remotely must be undertaken via the UCL’s single sign on, so that it is stored on the central server. Confidential information must not be accessible to other members of the household and confidential waste material must be shredded.

12. Agreeing a remote working arrangement

12.1 When advertising roles for recruitment, managers should put in the advert and job description whether the role may be suitable for some remote working and what percentage/days will be required on campus. All staff may continue to use the Work Life Balance Policy to make formal requests for flexible working.

12.2 Remote working will not be a contractual right and the employee may be asked to attend campus on any of their working days.  

12.3 All remote working arrangements, whether by team or individual should be confirmed in writing by line managers. 

13. Revoking the remote working arrangement

13.1 If staff do not meet the requirements of the remote working policy and procedure; or there are performance or conduct issues; or the member of staff has a change of role, then the remote working arrangement may be revoked.

14. Review of Policy

14.1 This Policy is not contractual and will be reviewed at the end of the interim pilot scheme, in consultation with UCL's recognised trade unions.

Line managers, staff and the recognised trade unions are asked to consider and follow this policy during the interim scheme, and to provide any feedback.

15. Appendix 1